As a member of the Arkansas football squad Gary “Peanut” Adams was always a team player. Today he is a member of a different team with a larger purpose through his career with the Secret Service.
Adams, who was raised by his mother (Carletta) in a small home in Springfield, Missouri, excelled at many sports while growing up. However, it was his father (Gary Sr.) who not only gave Adams his unusual nickname, but also his goal of a career in law enforcement. Adams Sr., who was a police officer, did not want his first son to be called Junior so he gave him the nickname that has stuck with him.
Prior to coming to Arkansas, Adams attended Springfield Central High School where he was a four-year varsity starter in both football and basketball. He earned honorable mention all-America honors and was twice an all-state, all-conference and all-district selection in football. He finished his high school career with 1,900 rushing yards and he passed for more than 2,400 yards and had 28 touchdowns. In basketball, he finished as Central’s all-time leading scorer with 1,406 points. Adams averaged almost 18 points a game his junior year and made second team all-state. As a senior, he was first team all-state averaging 21.6 points per game.
Adams selected Arkansas for its winning tradition and because he felt it gave him his best chance to continue his education.
In high school, Adams was known for playing quarterback and after redshirting in 1988, he lettered as Quinn Grovey’s backup in 1989 and ’90. During his four-year career at Arkansas, Adams made a successful transition from quarterback to defensive back and he also served as the holder on place kicks and field goals.
As a redshirt freshman, he played on a 10-2 team that went to that won the Southwest Conference Championship and played in the Cotton Bowl in Ken Hatfield’s final season as head coach. That season, he also showed promise with a 45-yard touchdown run against Texas El-Paso.
Adams displayed his unselfish, team-first attitude several times throughout the 1991 season. He started the first two games at quarterback against Miami and SMU. He was moved to the secondary and due to injuries started the Texas A&M game in College Station, Texas, at quarterback.
The 1991 season supplied Adams with one of his career highlights. On the first play of the game against Houston on Oct. 12, Adams made a jarring hit that caused a fumble he recovered at the Cougars’ 16-yard-line. Arkansas scored a quick touchdown en route to a 29-17 victory.
As a senior in 1992, he started all 11 games at free safety and made 27 tackles and two interceptions. That season was the first for Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference and saw the Hogs stun South Carolina in their league opener, 45-7, and it also was the year Arkansas topped Tennessee for the first time in school history. Against the Volunteers, Adams made a season-best five tackles to help Arkansas upset then-No. 4 Tennessee, 25-24.
It may have been the Auburn game his senior season that supplied Adams with one of his most memorable plays. On the final play before halftime, Adams intercepted a Stan White pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown. The game finished in a 24-24 tie and the interception return stands as the 12th-longest in school history.
Adams studied criminal justice and graduated with a degree in sociology in May of 1994. Immediately after graduation, he served several years as an Arkansas State Trooper, and now works as a Secret Service agent in Little Rock. In his role with the Secret Service, Adams is committed to the federal agency’s mission of “building on a tradition of excellence and meeting the challenges of the future.”
The University of Arkansas’ Athletic Department recognizes its heritage and the countless contributions made by African-American student-athletes in all 19 of its varsity sports. The Razorbacks are proud to celebrate this great tradition and recognize some of the inspiring pioneers, great student-athletes and outstanding role models that have worn a Razorback uniform as a part of Black History Month.